I recently shared a picture of this book on Instagram and it received such praise, I moved it immediately to the top of my TBR pile and my expectations were set sky high…
From the back cover:
Litigation lawyer and harried single mother Kate Baron is shocked when her daughter’s exclusive Brooklyn private school calls to tell her that Amelia – her intelligent, high-achieving fifteen-year-old has been caught cheating. But when Kate arrives at Grace Hall, she’s blindsided by far more devastating news. Amelia is dead. Despondent, she’s jumped from the school’s roof. At least that’s what Grace Hall and the police tell Kate. It’s what she believes, too, until she gets an anonymous text: Amelia didn’t jump. Now, Kate is going to find the truth – no matter where it leads. Sifting through Amelia’s e-mails, text messages, and Facebook posts, Kate reconstructs the pieces of her daughter’s life and the people in it, uncovering why she was on Grace Hall’s roof that day – and how she died.
This is a hard book to review, as I’m unsure if I set my expectations too high and as a result, I found this book wanting or if it really was missing something. This book has been likened to ‘Gone Girl’, I’m not quite sure why as I wouldn’t place the two books side by side – but this again, caused me to have exceedingly high expectations.
This book switches between the narrative of Kate, as she pieces together the events of her daughter’s life, and Amelia, as she describes the events prior to her death. We are also shown some of Amelia’s social media activity (Facebook and text messages) prior to her death, alongside articles from gRaCeFULLY, an unofficial school newsletter that dishes the gossip on the students.
USA Today described this book as a “mean-girls tale”, this book did actually remind me a bit of the film Mean Girls, in terms of the bitchiness that went on between the female students. However, Mean Girls is a comedy and sadly I really struggled to take some of the events that happened between Amelia and her classmates seriously. There were times throughout this read that I thought, had I read this book 10 or so years earlier, I would have really enjoyed it. I would highly recommend this book to younger readers; reading this story at 27 years old, I found it really lacking in depth. Certain parts of the story, that I felt the author could have explored more, were skimmed over. I don’t want to go into too much detail and give anything away, but I’ll give an example, the writer of gRaCeFULLY remained anonymous, until near the end of the book. When the writer of the newsletter was revealed, I was shocked, but it was given a few lines and then the story moved on. This newsletter featured heavily in the story, I’d have liked to have seen a bit more of the fallout. I think that comes from being a mother, the outrage I would have felt if I were Kate…This book certainly explored the theme of bullying, and what can happen if it’s all kept a secret, however, I felt the theme didn’t run deep enough.
I really liked the character of Kate and I enjoyed her narrative, and to a certain extent, I found her a relatable character. As a single parent, it is hard to find the balance between parenting and work, and you often question yourself – you want to be financially secure and provide the best for your child but at the same time you do wonder if you spend enough quality time with them. I think McCreight portrayed this brilliantly in the book, along with the guilt Kate felt at having worked such long hours while Amelia was alive. If this book was told entirely from Kate’s perspective, I think I may have enjoyed it a lot more.
If you’ve read this book, I’d be interested to know, if you too, felt maybe you were ‘too old’ for this story?